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European Film Market's Probst 'very excited' about new American indies presence

So far, nearly 550 market premieres scheduled.

Berlin’s European Film Market (EFM) head is “very excited” about the American independent filmmaking community having their first ever booth in the EFM’s key venue Martin Gropius Bau.

Speaking exclusively to ScreenDaily, EFM market director Beki Probst said: “We have had a long tradition of the American independents at the EFM: Lynda Hansen was behind the setting up of a stand [in the Cinecenter] at Budapester Strasse and we continued this tradition at EFM’s new venue at Potsdamer Platz with Michelle Byrd at IFP.”

Then there was a break in the presence of the US indies at the EFM before Probst began talking with Byrd and her successor Joana Vicente about taking a booth in the Martin Gropius Bau.

“We are very excited about having this new booth called The American Independents in Berlin [organised by IFP with the Sundance Institute]which will be located on the second floor of Martin Gropius Bau next to Meet the Docs and near the EFM Lounge,” she explained. “I think it could be a bit like the American Pavilion in Cannes and serve as a meeting point for the Americans in Berlin to come together with other filmmakers.”

In addition, EFM’s collaboration with the Sundance Film Festival, “Straight from Sundance,” has been renamed “Sundance at EFM 2012” and will continue to present the latest US independent productions which have just premiered in Sundance

With all talk of economic turndown and Eurozone crisis, one might perhaps expect to see long faces at the EFM, but far from it.

“Funnily enough, despite all talk of an economic crisis, we were sold out very quickly this year whereas last January we were still filling up gaps in the Marriott,” Probst observed. “But now we are really full! I have no crystal ball to say how things will actually be at the EFM this year, but what I have been hearing from buyers since the AFM is that the prices [for films] are going up.”

“Another reason why we are so fully booked is that some companies have left the national umbrellas and set up with their own stands,” EFM co-director Catherine Buresi added. “As was the case last year, we have more companies coming from Asia and we will have a bigger presence from India for the first time this year in the Martin Gropius Bau.”

While the Greeks and Japanese have reduced the sizes of their stands’ space, Russia will have a presence at both of EFM’s key venues - in the Martin Gropius Bau (MGB) and the Marriott Hotel.

Roskino (Sovexportfilm) will be moving this year over to the Marriott, while Russian Cinema Fund will have its first ever presence at the EFM with a national umbrella Cinema of Russia in the MGB. Apart from serving as a base at the EFM for the RCF, the booth will also host another six companies ranging from producer-distributor Bazelevs and Art Pictures Media through Central Partnership, Russia Television and Radio, and the Riki Group/Smeshariki, to Wizart Animation/Inlay Film.

According to the EFM’s figures, the market already has 400 exhibitors from 56 countries registered so far (the same as the final figure for 2011), while the number of buyers accredited to date is 987 from 54 countries.

692 films – including 24 3D titles – had been entered by the beginning of this week for screening at the EFM, with the number of market premieres at 546 (close already to 2011’s final total of 570).

In a change from the last two years, the EFM will be screening the 3D films at the CineStar Event cinema in the Sony Center instead of using the Astor Film Lounge on Berlin’s Kurfürstendamm.

This year sees another four new countries taking stands at the EFM: Republic of Kosovo, Colombia, South Africa and the Philippines.

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